A/N: When I heard about Cory, the whole concept of Finchel fanfiction felt wrong and sad to me. How do we pick up where we left off like nothing's changed, or worse try to make art - something to be enjoyed - out of so much tragedy and pain? But old habits die hard - I've been reading fanfic every day for years - so within a couple days I found myself wandering back. And surprisingly it helped. Finn isn't Cory, though they are deeply entwined, and the truth is that this is the only way we can continue his work. The show doesn't have that option. So at some point, I'll continue my other fics. In the meantime, I give you a drabble in the roughest sense of the word, for those of you who are longing for a little nostalgia at the moment. Hope it helps. It's set during Journey, the S1 finale, in those few largely unseen minutes (of screen time) when everyone thought glee was over for good.

This is for Cory, who I will always admire, and for Lea, who I hope is ever surrounded by love.

Also, don't own Glee. All mistakes are mine.

"Do you believe in fate?"

Rachel looked up from her Spanish notes, frowning. "Uhh, yeah. Why?"

She took in his furrowed brow, the slight unfocusing of his eyes, and assumed he wasn't asking because of anything pleasant. The whole club had seen its fair share of stage-worthy drama this year (what would be their only year, now), but of course she hoped he might have been thinking of her, asking because he felt cosmically drawn to her, like she was to him.

He swallowed. "It just doesn't seem fair. We worked so hard all year. Took our hits and came back swinging every time. I really thought we had a shot at keep this club going for next year and then – I don't know – maybe world domination. We were awesome, weren't we?"

Rachel nodded. "We were. I was so proud of everyone."

A hint of a smile came and went on his face. "But then Coach Sylvester was a judge at Regionals, and we didn't even place. I mean, what was the point? Everyone was – we had everything riding on this. Keeping our friends, getting scholarships – hell, just a little pride at that school." He let out a breath, and his shoulders drooped even further. "And now it's all shot to hell. I mean, where's the fate in that? Were we always destined to fail?"

Rachel wiped her eyes and shifted closer to him on her bed, taking comfort in his warmth. She wanted to be strong for him, but it was all too fresh, too raw still. "I don't know," she answered finally. "I don't understand it either. I try to imagine my life as one big biopic filled with struggle and triumph, but I didn't think it would hurt this much." Finn looked at her, but she shook her head. "And I don't see the triumph part. Glee gave me things I didn't even know I was missing. It filled me up, made me better. I just know nothing else in Lima will compare. I'll go right back to being a nobody, only now I know what I'm missing."

"Hey," Finn said, cupping her jaw to make her face him. "You won't be a nobody. And you won't be alone this time. I'm not going anywhere. Everyone else might fall apart without the club, but we won't. It's you and me now. Count on that."

She reached up, lacing her fingers with his over her cheek. "I love you," she told him.

He smiled, and it erased all the sadness from his face. She knew he'd been patiently waiting for her to say it back. There hadn't been time at Regionals, between performing and Quinn having her baby, and it had never felt like the right time since, with everyone so miserable. But she wanted him to know it, wanted to go all in with him.

"I love you, too," he said, stroking the side of her face with his thumb. "You were always my favorite thing about glee, you know, even before I realized why I couldn't stop thinking about you."

She smiled through a fresh wave of tears – happy ones. "Me too. I mean, I knew who you were, and of course I always thought you were gorgeous, but I never thought I'd be lucky enough to call you mine. Not like this."

"Well, we better hang onto it then."

She nodded, and – whether he meant that literally or not – she scooted the last few inches to curl up against him, wrapping her arms around his middle as he cradled her against his side, and they lay back against her pillows. She rested her forehead under his chin, her ear over his steadily pounding heart, and smiled, letting the moment drift on. This right here, this was perfect.

"Maybe it was us," she said softly, sometime later.

"What?" he grunted sleepily, and she felt his voice rumbling under her cheek, making her skin hum like under warm sunlight. She doubted she'd ever let him get back up.

"I was just thinking that maybe it was never about the club. Fate, destiny – maybe it was always about us."

"You mean what if all the fighting and cheating and illegitimate children – all of it was to get us together?"

His voice sounded curious, and she nodded into his t-shirt, her eyes closed. She was still exhausted after their emotionally draining weekend, or she might've remembered she was trying not to make everything about her all the time – it was her New Year's resolution – though if glee was over, what did it matter?

"What are you thinking?" she asked, half-heartedly trying to stay awake as her body sank comfortably further into him, like they were physically fusing as they lay together.

"I'm thinking that if that's true, then maybe fate knows what it's doing."

She smiled. "I like the idea of being destined for you."

She could hear in his voice that he smiled back. "Me too. I just wish the club got a happy ending out of all this."

"Yeah," she said, frowning. "Standing with your soulmate on a pile of ruins sounds so romantic and dramatic but it actually really stinks if it's your friends in ruins."

He moved a hand to gently knead the back of her neck, and she relaxed again. After so many months of communicating only in expressions – longing looks across the choir room, meaningful glances between solos – she relished feeling him like this, so warm and solid and real.

"We'll find a way," he said suddenly, and though he didn't move, her eyes flew open at the determination in his voice. "I figure if fate brought us together, it has to be for a reason, right? We make an incredible team. So there's something we're supposed to do, some higher purpose or something. We just aren't there yet. You and me, we're like step one."

She chuckled into his chest. "Step one? So what's step two? Nationals? Another Babygate next year?"

He laughed. "I don't know yet. I just know it's not over."

"And that's why you're our leader. I love you," she said, squeezing him a little tighter.

She felt him press a kiss into her hair, then rest his face there. Slowly, his breathing evened out, and she held onto him – her silver lining, her promise of a better tomorrow. She listened to his heartbeat until her chest rose and fell in sync with his.

A/N: I hope this helped some of you. If you'd like to see more like this, let me know.

RIP, Cory.